All Articles
All Articles

Interview: Sam Arthur of Nobrow and Flying Eye Books

This London publisher rejuvenates the children's book market with a collection of beautifully illustrated stories

by Gavin Lucas
on 07 June 2013

Independent publisher Nobrow has built a solid reputation since its inception in 2008 as a purveyor of beautifully produced image-based books. Now, from its headquarters in a shopfront studio in London's Shoreditch, it has launched a new imprint, Flying Eye Books, to publish books aimed specifically at children. Here's a look at the first titles released under the new imprint, plus our interview with Nobrow and Flying Eye co-founder Sam Arthur.

Flying Eye has already released books about monsters. What age bracket are you aiming the books at and what are you looking for when commissioning new books?

Flying Eye books are generally for children from ages three up to 11. Within that age range there are obviously different brackets, and different titles will appeal to different age groups. For example, Topsy Turvy World by Atak is entirely image-based and aimed at three to five year olds. In it, mice chase cats, penguins live in the jungle and cars fly. Our very first Flying Eye book, Welcome To Your Awesome Robot by Viviane Schwarz is for slightly older kids from ages five to seven. The idea with that book is that it acts as a guide for children and a supervising adult to create inventive cardboard robots. Another one of our titles Monsters & Legends is for an older age bracket again, as it charmingly dispels the myths behind some of the most fearsome monsters of legend.

What about books for toddlers, is that in the cards?

We have yet to do any baby books, but we haven't ruled it out! At the heart of what we do is a desire to find great stories and also beautiful and original artwork and illustration. It sounds like a statement of the obvious really, but I suppose what makes Flying Eye different to any other children's book publisher is our particular taste.

Tell us about this move to create a specifically child-focused catalog. Is it a natural progression now that your production and distribution credentials as Nobrow are in good order in the US, Europe and beyond?

As we've always been inspired by children's books, we really wanted to publish more of our own, but it wasn't a good business decision unless we got our marketing right. While we're confident we've created a strong brand in Nobrow, we were aware that the titles we had released—aimed at children rather than adults—weren't reaching the intended market and that was really frustrating.

When we sat down to talk about it, it became obvious that we needed a new imprint that was just for children, hence the creation of Flying Eye. We strongly believe that our brand of beautifully illustrated and wonderfully produced books has a place in the children's book market and yes, to answer your question, I think it really is every bit a natural progression for us.

As well as working with authors and illustrators to create new titles, you're also translating children's books that have previously only been available in French. I know you guys go to Angoulême each year to the International Comics Festival–has that helped open your eyes to French illustration?

Absolutely. The French children's book market in particular is amazing and we are definitely influenced and inspired by it. The Topsy Turvy World by Atak is, in fact, a German title and we have also recently seen some great children's books published in Portugal, Poland and Italy. In other words, we're not in any way put off by borders—we are proud to publish books from around the world.

What book either just published or in the pipeline for release are you most excited about at the moment?

I'm really excited about a book we're working on that is coming out this autumn. Professor Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space is a non-fiction book that explores the many fascinating aspects of the science and exploration of space in an accessible, fun-filled package. One of our longest standing collaborators Ben Newman is the illustrative genius behind it, along with his co-writer Dr Dominic Walliman (an ex-school buddy of Ben's and now a quantum computer mechanic who works for D-Wave, a company based in Vancouver currently contracted by NASA).

We also have some exciting new talents bringing out their first books: Emily Hughes with Wild, Jesse Hodgson with Pongo and William Grill with Shackleton's Journey. As if those weren't enough, we are working with established children's book author/illustrator David Lucas on a book entitled A Letter for Bear. Keep an eye on our website for news.

Images by Gavin Lucas

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance
Loading More...